On the evening of August 14th, 2016 we climbed the stairs at the Air Canada Center in Toronto to our seats. We knew that we were pretty far up, but we kept climbing higher and higher, looking for the 18th row of section 307. Eventually we found it – right at the very top. It didn’t matter and we didn’t care. We were there. There to see the Tragically Hip play what likely was their last ever show in Toronto on their Man Machine Poem tour. By now you all know why.
I went to my first concert in 1989. Since then I have no idea how many shows I’ve been too. But it’s definitely not a small number. I’ve felt lots of things seeing bands play over the last 27 years, but never anything like I did when the lights went down and the Hip started to play “Blow at High Dough”. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. It was a combination of pure joy, excitement, anticipation and sadness that washed over me all at once in a huge wave. Just as I thought it might be too much, the wave settled and I was just one of the 20,000 other lucky people who were singing along with Gord Downie for the next two plus hours. It wasn’t the only wave that would hit me as the band played their next 25 songs. But I stood there and let them wash over me, soaking it all in until the night ended with “Grace, Too”.
It’s tempting to ramble on and try to write something profound about the band, Gord Downie or this tour; many others have already done that much more eloquently than I ever could. See the heartfelt pieces penned by Dave Bidini for the Globe and Mail and CBC.ca for proof of that. Or how Damian Abraham told his story about getting over his punk rock hang-ups and embracing the Hip on Vice.com. So instead, I’ll just say thanks.
Thanks for giving me a reason to revisit a vast and eclectic catalog of albums that I’ve neglected for far too long.
Thanks for showing the world how truly unique we are as Canadians.
Thanks for giving our Prime Minister a reason to sing a song called “Tired as Fuck” along with the rest of his country (we all know he did).
Thanks for bringing that giant Canadian flag to your shows for us to proudly pass around over our heads each night.
Thanks for not taking the easy road.
Thanks for reminding me why I love music.
Thanks for making this a summer I won’t forget.